Issue of January 15, 2017
Mt. Province

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Newly installed Baguio Diocese bishop, the Most Rev. Victor B. Bendico, D.D., is on the right track when he humbly acknowledged that he ought not only to learn to speak the native language but also the culture and tradition of his new home, three important elements that have made the Cordillera region and its people great in this northern part of the country.

Bendico’s installation and ordination last week was a celebration of faith and leadership that put Baguio at the centerpiece of Christian faith with more than 40 bishops including Cardinal Antonio Tagle attending the Eucharistic celebration to ordain and install Monsignor Bendico in his new seat.

The solemn gathering was held at the Our Lady of the Atonement Cathedral and is now deemed as one of the most memorable events in the locality.

As the new bishop for more than 480,000 Catholic devotees in Baguio and Benguet, the Most Rev. Bendico from Roxas City, Capiz who turns 58 on Jan. 22, faces an enormous role as a moral and spiritual leader especially in this trying times when Catholicism is at a crossroads amid influences of different spiritual and religious movements.

So too is the Catholic Church, as an institution, now constantly under fire especially with the President questioning its relevance to present Philippine society.

We laud the new bishop for acknowledging the need to further build spiritual communities not only in his diocese but also in the remotest parts of this mountainous region, which is known for having God-fearing citizens and as an ever peaceful and gentle place that has endured for centuries now.

Albeit diverse, the culture and tradition of ethno-linguistic groups and people from all over the country that have migrated to Baguio and Benguet have melted into a culture of peace and caring and existence for the common good.

Catholics expect a different approach and leadership but many among them expect the new bishop to emulate the legacies of his predecessor, Bishop Emeritus Carlito Cenzon, C.I.C.M., D.D., who will be remembered as a staunch advocate for a strong Catholic faith, an environmentalist, and a civic and spiritual leader with a brave voice against political and social ills.

With more and more Catholics becoming vocal in their support for the government’s war on drugs that have led to disturbing cases of extrajudicial killings, Catholic leaders like the Most Rev. Bendico now face a greater challenge in convincing their flock that ultimately, the respect for life is paramount in keeping the faith.

Will the new bishop exhort the “Thou Shalt not Kill” order of the Catholic Church in his homily? That remains to be seen.

But history has it that the Church has never been silent on such matters even at the height of the Marcos dictatorship. As one leader of the Catholic Bishops of the Conference of the Philippines has said, the separation of the Church and the state does not mean Christians will stay silent on socio-political issues that have a great impact on the lives of Filipinos.

Also in our midst is the never-ending issue on gambling, which members of the Baguio Multi-sectoral Group say contributes to the decay of the moral fiber of our society.

The Most Rev. Bendico joining the advocacy will surely help in building and strengthening spiritual communities in our localities. That will serve as a great start in shepherding the people of Baguio and Benguet.

We believe the new bishop is well-positioned to chart a new roadmap for the Diocese, which is home to diverse languages, cultures and traditions of people who have come together from different parts of the country and faraway lands.



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